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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

See below a list of common questions regarding Preceptorships

What is Preceptorship?

The Department of Health (2010) defines preceptorship as ‘A period of structured transition for the newly registered practitioner during which he or she will be supported by a preceptor, to develop their confidence as an autonomous professional, refine skills, values and behaviours and to continue on their journey of life-long learning.’

However, over time this has evolved to include more than just new registrants, but also other healthcare professionals who are undergoing a transition, perhaps due to a new role or new area of practice, and require support during that period of transition.

What is a Preceptor?

A preceptor is a registered Practitioner who has been given the formal responsibility to support a newly registered practitioner through preceptorship. (DH, 2010) A preceptor is a professionally competent individual who can offer information, support and guidance to the preceptee.

Who needs a Preceptor?

The below list is not exhaustive but gives some indication of those who may benefit from a period of preceptorship:

  • Newly qualified practitioners
  • Practitioners entering a new field of practice with a second registration, for example health visitors
  • Practitioners who are working in a new setting, for example someone moving from acute to primary care
  • Practitioners returning to practice after completing a RtP programme
  • Practitioners returning to the ‘front line’ after a period away from delivering direct patient care
  • Practitioners moving to the area from elsewhere in the UK
  • Overseas recruits

Is preceptorship just for Registered Nurses and Midwives?

No, although other terms may be used in different professions, such as supervision. However, the principles of preceptorship should be applied for all healthcare professions.

How long should Preceptorship last?

Preceptorship usually lasts for a period of 12 months, although the level of support an individual requires will depend on a number of factors including;

  • Organisational policy
  • Previous experience
  • Area of practice
  • Individual development

Is there protected time for those undergoing preceptorship?

This is an individual organisational decision, although protected time is strongly recommended as best practice to enable preceptees to meet with their preceptor and for other shadowing and development opportunities.

Do preceptors need to undertake training to enable them to fulfil their role?

There is no specified mandatory training required to be a preceptor, but it is recommended that preceptors:

  • Have been qualified for a minimum of 12 months
  • Are working in the same practice setting as the preceptee
  • Have had some training / guidance regarding the skills needed to be a preceptor (usually provided in-house)
  • Are supported in their role by the preceptorship lead within the organisation

Who can be a preceptor?

Any competent registered healthcare professional can be a preceptor. Ideally this would be someone that the preceptee is working with on a regular basis so that they have the opportunity to meet to discuss progress, plan any further support needed and work together. More details on who can be a preceptor are addressed in the previous question.

How often should preceptees and preceptors meet?

This may be dictated  by organisational policy  and you should refer to that in the first instance. However consideration should be given to the individual needs of the preceptee. Preceptees and preceptors should meet within the first week of the preceptee’s employment to plan progress and future meetings. Meetings are often more frequent in the first 3-4 months of the preceptorship period where more support is required and may be less frequent, perhaps only monthly, towards the end of the preceptorship period.

What elements are included in preceptorship?

This may vary according to differing needs of organisations, but should include as a minimum:

  • Accountability
  • Career Development, including revalidation
  • Communication
  • Dealing with conflict and managing difficult conversations
  • Delivering safe care
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Leadership
  • Quality improvement
  • Resilience
  • Reflection
  • Safe staffing and how to escalate concerns
  • Multi-disciplinary team working
  • Medicine’s management (where relevant)
  • Inter-professional learning

It should be noted though that Preceptorship is not about assessing competence of the practitioner as this will have been formally assessed during their training.

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